There are two main species of the coffee plant, Coffea arabica being
the older one. Thought to be indigenous to Ethiopia, arabica was
first cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula. While
more susceptible to disease, it is considered by most to taste better
than the second species, Coffea canephora (robusta). Robusta, which
contains about 40-50% more caffeine, can be cultivated in environments
where arabica will not thrive. This has led to its use as an inexpensive
substitute for arabica in many commercial coffee blends. Compared
to arabica, robusta tends to be bitter and has little flavor, with
a telltale "burnt rubber" or "wet cardboard"
aroma and flavor. Good quality robustas are used as ingredients
in some espresso blends to provide a better "crema" (foamy
head), and to lower the ingredient cost. In Italy many espresso
blends are based on dark-roasted robusta.
Arabica coffees were traditionally named by the port they were exported
from, the two oldest being Mocha, from Yemen, and Java, from Indonesia.
The modern coffee trade is much more specific about origin, labeling
coffees by country, region, and sometimes even the producing estate.
Coffee aficionados may even distinguish auctioned coffees by lot
The largest coffee exporting nation remains Brazil, but in recent
years the green coffee market has been flooded by large quantities
of robusta beans from Vietnam . Many experts believe this giant
influx of cheap green coffee after the collapse of the International
Coffee Agreement of 1975-1989 with Cold War pressures led to the
prolonged pricing crisis from 2001 to 2004.  In
1997 the "c" price of coffee in New York broke US$3.00/lb,
but by late 2001 it had fallen to US$0.43/lb. Robusta coffees (traded
in London at much lower prices than New York's Arabica) are preferred
by large industrial clients (multinational roasters, instant coffee
producers, etc.) because of their lower cost..